Today Your Legal Corner will discuss “Exploitation of the Elderly, the RAP sheet.”
Recently, much attention was given to Donald Trump’s disparaging comments of whether John McCain is a hero. This led me to wonder, what is an accurate definition of a hero? The dictionary states a hero is a person of courage, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities.
When fighting the war on elder abuse, no one will consider you a hero. Instead, you will be met with doubt, disbelief and greed. Let the elder live his or her life as they choose to do so. Or the line I hear frequently, “even elders have the right to make bad decisions.”
The most difficult situations are where the elder has limited capacity as opposed to no capacity. Capacity is the ability to comprehend both the nature and consequences of one’s acts.
When an elder lacks capacity, an application for Guardianship may be made to the Probate Courts. Details on how to do this can be found on njcourts.com under forms and of course through an elder law attorney.
So what tools do we have in our arsenal to protect and defend an elder victim with limited capacity? As mentioned, this is not an easy battle and no one will thank you, including the victim. They fail to believe or are too embarrassed to disclose they are being duped.
However, even during the bleakest times, we cannot give up. Consider the following in your quest for justice and try to include as many organizations, family members and witnesses on your side as possible. Remember it is not an easy fight. Here is the RAP Sheet (Report and Protect).
Keep a log as to each encounter you may have with either the victim or the abuser. Include date, time, location and a short summary of interaction. If you have documentation that supports the meeting include that as well. For example, include a picture of you with the victim and their abusers.
An elderly person who is isolated is especially vulnerable to abuse. In these situations, distance does not make the heart grow fonder. If you do not communicate on a regular basis, you will miss important clues and changes in behavior. Further, your failure to communicate and provide them with attention will risk alienating them permanently.
Each year YLC offers the opportunity to receive a complimentary inventory of assets packet by email to help elders know specifically what they own and where important paper work/documents are located.
Going a step further in the fight against elder financial exploitation is a company called EverSafe. They provide protection from fraud, identity theft, unscrupulous telemarketers and possibly anyone who would want to steal by monitoring an elder’s financial accounts and credit reports, alerting you to suspicious activity.
Elizabeth Loewy, General Counsel for Eversafe, spoke recently at the White House Conference on Aging, and has stated “these crimes wreck the best-laid financial plans and put tremendous strains on families, from the seniors dealing with the burdens of victimization to the relatives wracked with guilt for not having acted more sooner.”
Aging and disability resource center
To examine your options and receive information and assistance call toll free 1-877-222-3737. If you are not a Gloucester County resident, the correct number will be provided to you.
Consult with an elder law attorney to discuss your case. Attorneys may be able to freeze assets, provide guardianship representation, or take other legal action that may be appropriate to your situation.
Reporting Elder Abuse
Each state has rules for investigating and providing protective services. Reporting may be done anonymously. Most states, including New Jersey, have mandatory reporting of elder abuse if your job requires you to have regular contact with an elderly person such as a social worker or nurse. Importantly, the reporter is granted civil and criminal immunity as long as he or she has not reported in bad faith.
Citizens can report elder abuse through their county Adult Protective Services office located within their Board of Social Services. In Gloucester County, call (856) 582-9200 or after hours (800) 648-0132 to report elder abuse.
Remember, should a victim be deemed to have capacity, they can refuse services offered.
Admittedly, there are no easy answers in combatting elder exploitation. Still, we can earnestly Report And Protect to help our elderly. Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner, will consider: ” Exploitation Protections in your Legal documents.”
Victoria M. Dalton is an attorney with the law offices of Hoffman DiMuzio.
Send questions, or comments to Victoria at [email protected]. Or call 856-845-8243.
Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice.